Oslo honors Nobel Peace Prize winners

The Nobel Prize winners with the royal family. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Nobel Prize winners with the royal family. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the weekend of December 9-11, Oslo hosted the Nobel Peace Prize events.

This year’s prize was awarded in equal parts to three different women from Yemen and Liberia: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman.

The prizes were handed out in a ceremony that began at 1 p.m. in Oslo’s City Hall. Present at the ceremony were TRM King Harald and Queen Sonja, as well as THR Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. At 6 p.m., the annual torchlight parade began in Youngstorget and arrived outside the Grand Hotel’s gates in time for the winners to wave down from the balcony before the Nobel banquet began at 7 p.m, which was also attended by members of the royal family. Absent from the festivities was Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was away on diplomatic business in Australia.

During the prize ceremony, Johnson-Sirleaf praised Norway for its peaceful response to July 22’s terrorist attacks. “In the face of such adversity, the response at every level of public and private Norwegian life has been consistent with your historic adherence to the values of openness, integrity and justice. For this, the world admires you and all of the citizens of this great country. I offer you the deepest sympathy of the people of Liberia for the loss of life and I extend to you our profound respect,” said Sirleaf.

During her speech, Gbowee, an activist for womens’ rights, thanked the Nobel committee for awarding the prize to women. The prize has been awarded to a woman only 12 times before. “Let me again congratulate the Nobel Committee for awarding the Peace Prize to us three women. By this act you affirm that women’s rights are truly human rights and that any leader, nation or political group that excludes women from all forms of national and local engagement is setting themselves up for failure,” said Gbowee.

On Sunday, the three women opened a new exhibit at the Nobel Peace Center, which honors them and their work.  The exhibit remains open for the rest of the year.

Sunday evening, TRH Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were present at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert, as well as Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn.  All three winners were also in attendance at the concert; this was a cause for celebration, since the winners have not been in attendance at the concert in Oslo’s Spektrum Scene for the last two years. The concert was hosted by actresses Helen Mirren and Rosario Dawson. Popular Norwegian artist Jarle Bernhoft performed, as well as many other artists such as Sugarland, Angelique Kidjo, David Gray and Janelle Monae, among many others.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 16, 2011 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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